Present Day – December 24, 2006
I shook my head trying to clear the ghastly image. No matter how many times I tried to forget, it assaulted me every time my eyes closed. Every blink, when I rubbed my eyes, every time I tried to sleep…her lifeless body was all I could see. I still smell the coppery tang of her blood. My mind refused to process that the girl laying there was actually my Sookie. I was in denial, and I knew it. Now, ask me if I cared?
A nurse came in and started whatever medical nonsense she needed to do. I was so strung out at that point that I barely even noticed when she started talking to me.
“Sir? Visiting hours are almost over and-“ she seemed timid, but I still cut her off curtly.
“I’m not leaving.”
I sighed. This was becoming a habit with everyone it seemed. “Look, talk to Doctor Kaplan. We have some extenuating circumstances. I’m not leaving her.”
She nodded her head and scampered out of the room. I lowered my head and rested it on the edge of the bed-that god forsaken bed where the love of my life wouldn’t wake up. She had to wake up. She just had to.
3 Days Ago- Hospital Emergency Room
Jason raced into the ER and bypassed me completely on his way to the desk.
“Jason!” I rushed over to him without even thinking. He ignored me for a moment while the supremely unhelpful woman made bedroom eyes at him and he barked a reprimand at her in annoyance. Then he turned to me.
“What happened?” he glowered at me and I took a step back. Jason had always been one of my best friends and now I was definitely on the receiving end of his ire.
“She came over to talk. I promised her pizza and her car was already in the driveway when I got home. So I took the pizza in the kitchen. I found her unconscious in the living room,” I managed not to stutter, was a major accomplishment with the state my emotions were in.
“What was she doing at your place anyways?” his crossed arms and defensive stance were starting to make me nervous.
I fidgeted. “I asked her to come over and talk. I have no idea what’s going on and I needed to know.”
“You don’t deserve an explanation, dickhead. I’m going to go find out where she is. Why don’t you make yourself useful and call everyone?” Jason turned back to the woman who now held out a post it with Sookie’s room number on it. He strode quickly through the automatic doors and disappeared; I sank heavily into the waiting room chairs.
Resignedly, I decided to do as Jason asked. I figured he was pissed at me enough for whatever was going on. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and hit Pam’s speed dial.
“Snarky Sidekicks, what’s your pleasure?”
“Pam?” my voice was nearly a whisper.
“Eric,” She sighed again; I didn’t have the energy to be annoyed. “I told you to leave her alone. I’m not helping you get to her,” she sounded bored. I could just picture her filing her perfectly manicured nails.
“Pam, she’s in the hospital. She-“
“WHAT? You mother…” I held the phone away from my ear until the noise died down.
“Are you done so I can tell you what happened?” the waver in my voice must have stunned her for a moment, so I took my chance. “She came over to talk. I was getting the pizza I promised her. Then I found her in the living room unconscious and bleeding. She’s in the ER now and Jason’s with her. They won’t let see with her. God, Pam, she is so skinny! I’ve never…what if…what if she…” the tears finally started and I tried to mute the sob that escaped my mouth.
Pam was silent for a few moments. “Eric, I’ll be right there. Do you need me to call everyone else?”
I nodded, but then remembered that she couldn’t see me, “Ye-, yes, please. Thank you, Pam. I don’t know what’s been going on, but I know I can’t lose her.”
“I’ll be there soon Eric.”
A click sounded in my ear, but the ominous absence of reassurance from her was what really shook me.
I sat in those chairs that I’m sure were deliberately designed to make you as uncomfortable as possible and waited. I felt as if I was in some sort of weird suspended animation where nothing was real.
People came and went, bled and cried. And none of it reached me. I was numb and I was almost grateful for it. Pam rushed into the automatic doors and immediately came to my side.
“Eric! How is she? What did they say?” I took a moment to take in her appearance. My normally immaculately dressed and groomed sister was wearing jeans. Jeans with holes no less. And a ratty old Rush shirt that I recognized as one of our Dad’s. She was even wearing flip flops. I didn’t think she even OWNED flip flops.
“They won’t tell me anything! They rushed her back and Jason’s with her, but since I’m not family, they won’t tell me anything. Something about privacy laws or something,” I grabbed onto her and buried my face in her neck to muffle the sobs that had started again.
Her stiffened form gradually relaxed and she began stroking my back. “Eric, she’ll be ok. Sookie’s a fighter. Let me see if I can get an update from Jason.”
I sat down and leaned back in my seat while she fiddled with her phone and sent a text. I took one shuddering breath after another and tried to imagine that everything was how it used to be.
“You son of a bitch!” was the only warning I got before my jaw was on fire and the chair I was sitting in had fallen on its side. Meanwhile, I had been thrown back and was sprawled across the floor.
“What the-?” I looked up through slightly starry eyes to see Jason. He had the ugliest look on his face that I’ve ever seen.
“Are you happy now? As if it wasn’t enough to completely break her, now you’ve got her on the verge of death! You stupid mother fucker!” he reeled his fist back in preparation for another blow, but thankfully I was saved by hospital security. He may be a head shorter and wiry, but that fucker packed a wallop.
“Sir! This isn’t the place. Can you calm down or do we need to escort you out?” the hulking man who had a firm grip on Jason’s fist pulled him slightly away from my still sprawled out form.
“Nah, I’m good,” he shrugged off the guard and rolled his shoulders. Then he noticed Pam, who’d conveniently sat silently by while he pummeled my face. “Pam! Why did she do it? She was doing so good!”
She gripped him tightly in a hug as he sobbed into her shoulder. I guess she was the go-to for comfort.
“We were all afraid she’d slip. It was bound to happen one way or another. Let’s find a private place to fill Eric in-“ she glared at Jason as he let out a small growl “look, he deserves to know. You can obviously see how upset he is and he has no idea the extent of what has happened. This way you can tell us what the doctor said. Is that okay?”
“Well, I guess it has to be, now doesn’t it? Just tell me you’re not siding with him just cause he’s your brother. You owe Sookie more than that and you know it.”
“Jason, you know where I stand. On everything. Let’s just find somewhere to talk,” Pam stood and slowly moved to the reception desk and quietly made her inquiries. Jason staunchly refused to look my way, which just left me more baffled than before.
“Come on guys, this way. I already texted Lafayette to tell him where to find us,” she motioned for us to follow and led us down the hall.